Apples used to be something students left on the teacher’s desk.
Now in the Plymouth Community Schools Apples are something that have been placed in the hands of each and every student.
Every student in grades K through 12 now has a computing device. Kindergarteners and 1st graders have IPADS, while other students have MacBooks.
The milestone has led to some fundamental changes in the way the district conducts business.
“They understand that they're in school but what they like outside of school matters inside of school,” said Plymouth Instructional Coach Allie Holland. “They're completely in control of their learning. It definitely took a while for them to understand that concept.”
For instance, sixth grader Autumn Celmer sat in front of a pad of pencil sketches. The kind of doodling that may get her in trouble in most classes is welcome in the SOLE class at Riverside Intermediate.
SOLE stands for Self Organized Learning Environment. Students in the class make up their own assignments. “I’m a free bird,” said Celmer.
On this day, Celmer decided to spread her wings by turning her pencil sketches into computer animation.
As part of another assignment, students were encouraged to solve any mystery of interest—through the use of technology.
“We started doing, do fish feel pain?” said Grace Bougher. “Haley and I were kind of curious, wanted to look into it. From the information we found, they have too small of a brain to feel pain.”
“Well my project was, can robots have conscience?” said Ian McVicker. “I found a YouTube video actually that there was a robot that could show emotion.”
Assistant Superintendent Dan Funston realizes that kids today have quick access to unlimited information. “In the past, the teachers were considered the keepers of information. They would lecture on different subjects, kids would take notes, but I really feel this isn’t really my term but it’s a term that’s out there is that were in an age of abundance now as far as information goes and so kids can readily access any of that information.”
“Our whole idea at Plymouth is not to use computers as paper and pencil, like a fancy paper and pencil, the idea is to connect the students with the outside,” said Instructional Coach Allie Holland. “To get them to connect authentically with the outside world so we use social media a lot we do a lot of Skype sessions.”
“You can learn anything you want, pretty much,” said sixth grader Harold Niones.
The concept appears to be catching on with students like Nate Griffin. “Like, you got to get used to this because it’s going to become the next big thing—it’s growing.”
Of course, not every class in the Plymouth schools operates like the SOLE class, but it provides one example of how the district is trying to change with the technological times.
Plymouth has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program for the 2013-2015 cycle.